John Tortorella

Lightning beat Rangers 2-1, Tortorella lashes out at officiating

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It was a classic, tight checking, tough defensive game but not the sort of game that puts you to sleep. Vincent Lecavalier’s 5-on-3 power play goal broke a 1-1 tie in the early third period to give the Lightning the win. Dwayne Roloson held strong making 22 saves to make it stick to give the Lightning a key win as they look to win the Southeast Division.

How the Lightning got that 5-on-3 was the main point of contention for Rangers coach John Tortorella after the game. It started with a questionable boarding call to Dan Girardi for hitting Steve Downie awkwardly into the boards. Brian Boyle was then busted for delay of game for putting the puck over the glass. Moments later Lecavalier is ripping a shot past Henrik Lundqvist.

Tortorella  was not amused with the call on Girardi that started things off. Andrew Gross of Ranger Rants gives us the foul-mouthed details from the coach.

“It’s a tough one,” Tortorella said. “We gave them **** all night long and they beat us five on three on a horse**** call to start.

“Yes,” Tortorella added when asked if the Rangers had done what it needed to do to win. “We defended. We had problems with their speed early on but then we finally got our forecheck going. They sit back, they want you to dump it in. They have that defenseman sitting back in the blue. We knew how they were going to play. And we got around the puck as the game went on. We had some chances, we didn’t score, right to the bitter end.

“As the game went on, it was one of those games. Both teams were grinding. I just wish the league would stay the hell out of it and let the teams decide it. It’s bull****. There’s too much at stake here.

“We took some stupid penalties but Danny Girardi’s is not a boarding call. It’s just a simple guess. We gave them nothing five on four, nothing and we get beat five on three and it starts with a bad call.”

So tell us how you really feel.

The hit that sent Girardi off that’s got Tortorella mad was a borderline call and as officiating is wont to do, it’s highly subjective in how things are seen. Downie went into the boards awkwardly but the play didn’t appear to be a textbook hit for boarding. These sorts of calls happen every game and no one is going to be able to go away happy.

Tortorella asking to let the teams decide the game, in this case, might’ve been all right as both teams were playing hard and giving it all they had. Asking that in other situations is inviting the “old” way back in where teams get away with mugging each other and we’re forced to be bored to death for 60+ minutes at a time.

The battle for the playoffs for the Rangers will rage on and Tortorella is likely to get fined for his statements, but for the Rangers, they’re going to have to find a way to generate goals. Brandon Prust’s shorthanded goal today was controversial on its own as it could’ve been ruled that Prust interfered with Roloson on the play. The Rangers need to do better than one or two goals a game. Henrik Lundqvist is fantastic but asking him to be lights out every night is horribly demanding.

Now we’ll wait and see if Tortorella’s yelling earns him some benefit of the doubt in the future from the guys in stripes. Grandstanding and lashing out the way he did can sometimes pay off in the future.

Fight video: Someone other than Evander Kane beats up Alex Petrovic

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Bummed out on this holiday? Look on the bright side: at least you’re not as sore as Florida Panthers defenseman Alex Petrovic likely is right now.

Not long after suffering three defeats at the hands/fists of Evander Kane, Petrovic likely lost another bout to Nashville Predators tough guy Anthony Bitetto.

(Note: some might consider this more of a draw, for what it’s worth. You can watch that latest fight in the video above.)

Hey, at least Bitetto didn’t taunt Petrovic after their fight …

It was a rough night for the Panthers overall, as they suffered a gruesome injury or two and fell to the Predators by a score of 5-0.

Outdoor game rumors: Jets host Oilers, Red Wings at Maple Leafs

The Toronto Maple Leafs and the Detroit Red Wings face off during the first period of the Winter Classic outdoor NHL hockey game at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor, Mich., Wednesday, Jan. 1, 2014. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
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Love is in the air on Valentine’s Day, and so are rumors about hockey fans bundling up for outdoor games next season.

Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman went over two possible outdoor matchups coming for 2016-17 during Saturday’s Headlines segment.

A smart move for a potential game in Winnipeg: Imagine the Jets hosting a game in Winnipeg in February? Ilya Bryzgalov almost turned off his TV in protest.

Instead, Sportsnet’s John Shannon reports that the Jets are likely to host the Edmonton Oilers in October. That would be a smart logistical move, as long as it isn’t too hot.

(Also, playing it then would hopefully increase the odds of the mainstream sporting public seeing Connor McDavid in an outdoor game.)

Toronto’s turn: Friedman reports that the Toronto Maple Leafs are likely to host the Detroit Red Wings in the 2017 Winter Classic (or at least an outdoor game), almost certainly on New Year’s Day 2017.

The two teams combined for a great Winter Classic at Ann Arbor in 2014, so that could be a fun time.

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Keep in mind these are reports (and well-placed ones at that) rather than official announcements for the NHL. These things could always change.

Related: Could the Penguins host the Flyers outdoors next season, too?

Ducks likely to recall Khudobin after Gibson injury

Chicago Blackhawks' Richard Panik (14), of Slovakia, collides with Anaheim Ducks goalie John Gibson (36) during the second period of an NHL hockey game Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016, in Chicago. Anaheim won 3-2 in overtime. (AP Photo/Paul Beaty)
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“Costly victories” may have been one of the themes of Saturday night, as some teams paired impressive wins with worrisome injuries.

The good news is that, in each case, it appears that the early word is optimistic about those players (Tyler Seguin got stitched up in the Stars’ win, for example).

The Anaheim Ducks are reportedly readying to recall Anton Khudobin on Sunday after John Gibson suffered an upper-body injury during a collision with Chicago Blackhawks forward Richard Panik.

Again, so far the hope/expectation is that this might not be a major issue:

The pessimistic take would be to wonder “Uh oh, is the Ducks goalie carousel starting again?”

Frederik Andersen has seen some runs as Anaheim’s No. 1 guy, so maybe this issue is a reminder that the Ducks may be better off keeping both Gibson and Andersen around … at least while they can.

Stars end Capitals’ winning streak, pass Blackhawks for West lead

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For two periods, the Dallas Stars seemed to say, “Are you sure the Washington Capitals are the best team in the NHL?”

They chased Braden Holtby and built a 4-0 lead through those first 40 minutes, and that was enough … but barely. The Stars beat the Capitals 4-3 on Saturday, which accomplished the following:

  • Dallas ended Washington’s winning streak at five games. The Stars have now won three straight.
  • This win slides the Stars ahead of the Chicago Blackhawks for first place in the highly competitive Central Division. While both teams sit at 77 standings points, Dallas holds three games in hand.
  • By passing Chicago, the Stars now lead the Western Conference as a whole.

Impressive stuff. Some might even call it a statement game, although others may hold that nail-biting ending against them (possibly arguing that the Stars’ flaws may come back to haunt them in the playoffs).

Dallas’ biggest concern likely has little to do with doubters. Instead, they must monitor the statuses of forwards Tyler Seguin and Cody Eakin.

Long story short, the Stars are red-hot, yet bigger challenges likely lie ahead.